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'Twas the Night Before Jetsmas


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When all through the Jets House

Not a creature was stirring, not even a Bills mouse

Okay that's all I got on the rhyming. But like I assume most in Jets Nation, I feel as excited for opening day as I have for awhile. While the jury is out on what I consider 2019's pivotal Jets question - is Gase a legit HC-OC combo & leader of men ... I am heartened by the presence of more than a few talented pieces on the roster and the entire organization, including one Joe Douglas. I know he largely inherited his charges, but FWIW his presence alone has me intrigued about tomorrow and beyond.

As for this season: I think solid time of possession while hopefully averaging 24 points-ish is the Jets best bet. As anyone sees the defense could have some trouble, with its nebulous corners and pass rush (we'll see how Williams can mix & match). If the offense can do that, it should give the lads a good shot most weeks.

Doable? The answers begin tomorrow. 

Enjoy Jets Nation!

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SEP 07, 2019 | 7:00 AM


Sam Darnold challenges the adage without hesitation. He insists that he hasn’t entered football’s Matrix, where he views the world in slow motion. His truth is quite different than the convenient storyline.

“People usually say, ‘Oh, the game’s slowing down for him. It’s slowing down in his second year,’” Darnold told the Daily News in a candid conversation about his continuing education in the run-up to the season opener against the Bills on Sunday. “For me, a better way of saying it is everything’s speeding up in my head.”

He snaps his fingers, explaining one of the fundamental improvements that he believes he’s made this offseason: Moving off his first read quicker.

There were too many times when Darnold felt paralyzed by his initial read in the progression last season. Maybe he threw an interception or incompletion. Maybe he got crunched by a pass rusher.

Something needed to change.

So, he spent the spring and summer absorbing Adam Gase’s offense, while making it a point of emphasis to know when to cut bait from his first option on a given play.

The approach doesn’t always yield optimal results. Sometimes, the first read that he moved off breaks open a split second later for what would have been a big gain. It’s a reality that Darnold has accepted since this new approach better avoids negative plays.

“I’m reading something No. 1 to No. 2 to No. 3 … in progression,” he says. “I’m just eliminating No. 1 faster. So, I’m playing faster. You got to trust it. There are times when I think, ‘No. 1’s not there. Go to No. 2.’ I hit No. 2 and it gains five yards. And then we look at the tape the day after and No. 1 was open. There are times when that happens, but for me, I just got to trust my instincts.”

His instincts are part of his gifts.

Darnold has the makeup, skillset and inherent feel to be a difference maker for a long time. He’s far from a finished product, but his desire to become that finished product is what makes his future so tantalizing.

“He has a great chance to be one of the great quarterbacks in this league,” wide receiver Jamison Crowder told the News.

‘Oh, no! What are you doing?!’

Darnold made 48 improvements that you probably didn’t even notice this summer.

There was progress in every one of his preseason snaps, subtle changes that will prove invaluable moving forward.

He has worked diligently at eliminating two important tells from last season. Gase, who studied the details of every one of his new pupil’s pre-snap body movements upon getting hired, noticed that the quarterback was tipping the snap on shotgun plays by moving his elbows, while barking out cadence.

Darnold’s fidgety elbows were an indicator that the ball was about to be snapped, prompting smart defensive linemen to get a good jump off the line. One defensive coordinator who faced Darnold last season confirmed to the News that he had indeed noticed the tell and passed it along to his players.

Adam Gase studied Sam Darnold's game film from his rookie campaign and spotted a few things the young QB needs to adjust. 

So, Gase pointed Darnold to Peyton Manning and Ryan Tannehill’s tapes from the shotgun. Manning was the master of keeping his elbows still while only moving his hands.

“It’s something that I never really did before,” Darnold said about keeping his elbows still. “Now that I’ve done it a few times, it’s getting better. There’s a lot of things that the normal fans wouldn’t notice. If you focus on those very minuscule things in practice, then you don’t have to think about it anymore in the game. I think that’s where we’re trying to get.”

Darnold also had to correct his mechanics under center. Gase noticed that he only had one hand under center when stepping up to the line of scrimmage. Darnold would start barking out calls from this relatively lax position. In other words, the defense was never actually threatened since the quarterback wasn’t in position to take the snap with two hands under center. So, he needed to make this small — but important — adjustment this offseason.

The 22-year-old has also been working on avoiding getting caught in what Gase refers to “No Man’s Land.”

Darnold had a tendency last year to sprint to his right, stop and let it fly. One problem: That approach might get him snapped in half. So, Gase has underscored the importance of staying in motion when flushed out of the pocket to avoid a crushing hit from a defender coming from his left. (He’s also trying to get Darnold to roll out less to his left and throw across his body).

“I remember in some type of drill when we were going up against the defense,” Darnold said. “I sprinted to my right in the red area, pulled up and tried to throw to my back side. You’re not supposed to do that because you got free guys coming from behind you. I knew I shouldn’t have done that right when I did that. Gase is like, ‘Oh no! What are you doing?!’”


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